The sense that somethings not right and the constant distraction like a buzzing bee hovering around your head.
Yep, you’ve just seen a shark OR your imagination (or 6th sense) has just triggered your anxiety. Not a pleasant feeling and one that most of us who dive in waters with plenty of the ‘men in grey suits’ aka ‘the taxman’ can empathize with. Although, like many things in life that scare you, exposure can steadily desensitize you. The caveat to this is to NEVER lose your respect for sharks OR believe that you ‘have control of them’ because you don’t.
“Newbie spearo here (got my first fish the other day) with a question: How do I manage shark anxiety? I know the stats and ‘rarity’ of being attacked, but I just can’t shut off the anxiety switch. I need to get past this as providing for myself is a large life goal. Cheers for your help in advance.” – Lee (Rewritten from a Facebook Group Spearfishing Victoria)
Some good advice and wisdom was shared following this post;
Galin“Someone told me that a trip to QLD and diving with the blokes up there can break any shark anxiety. Maybe worth a go?”
Blake“Second Galin. I went to QLD and dived in some crappy vis. When I got back to Melbourne I didn’t even think about sharks anymore.”
Luke “With any anxiety, you slowly introduce yourself to the environment that is making you feel that way until your brain no longer perceives it as a threat. So start by doing short trips and you’ll eventually adjust.”
These guys have tapped into some wisdom here. Psychologists describe this process as desensitization and if done gradually can habituate spearos to obstructive fears. Over time they find that their reactions to sharks and/or situations where they begin to experience anxiety decreases. Exposure can help to weaken previously learned associations between sharks and bad outcomes (think JAWS movies). Possibly the greatest benefit to healthy shark exposure teaches spearos that they are capable of confronting their fears and can manage the anxiety. During positive exposure to sharks, a spearo can learn to attach new, more realistic beliefs about sharks, shark behavior and how to adapt their own personal response to them.
Accept anxiety, don’t fight it, sit with it and learn to bear it. It will diminish.
Learn breathing techniques to relax on the surface and reduce fear and anxiety.
Being in situations with sharks when the water is clean and the sharks are relatively calm can acclimatize you to the fear.
Turn fear into curiosity – learn about sharks. Observe their behaviour. Research their body language and cues. Knowledge dispels fear (gradually).
Ground yourself in the moment by paying attention to the details.
Prepare to not be prepared. Do what is in your control and listen to your dive buddy.
Is it worth it?
Sharks an be unpredictable and dangerous, they can kill you. They are often big, unimaginably fast, sometimes sneaky and you are in their environment however MOST of the time they are wary of us and you can learn techniques to dissuade their attention. You can also avoid shark red flag moments to minimize the risk too;
🚩 Dusk – when the last light of the day hits the water, sharks can be at their most erratic.
🚩 Struggling Fish – blood in the water is far less of a turn-on for sharks than a fish flailing on a hook and line OR a spear. Dispatch quickly and spearfish in pairs/groups.
🚩 Dirty Water – Brisbane Bullsharks are notorious for their confidence in dirty water and they aren’t alone. When you see big sharks in <6/7Meters (20ft) vis, get out and move spots.
“I don’t want to not live because of my fear of what could happen. If you stop exploring, everything becomes smaller. Fear is an unbelievable motivator. Fear is a natural response. Without it, we wouldn’t survive. Meet up with your fears. If you’re afraid of sharks, go learn all about sharks. Get into the water with one.” – Laird Hamilton.
What Do You Think?
Now I’d like to hear from you:
Which technique from today’s post are you going to use first?
Are you going to get in the water with sharks? Or try some breathing techniques to calm down?
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.
There are plenty of ways to improve your spearfishing. Here are five spearfishing mistakes to avoid next time you go diving. This list was sent to us by Eckart Benkenstein, spearo and freediving instructor
This is a classic mistake that we’ve all made and is generally caused by diving out of our depth or not being confident enough to reach the bottom. Improving your diving ability will improve your depth. Having a good buddy that is drilled in good buddy technique will also allow you to relax a little more and push a little deeper knowing your buddy is there for you.
This mistake also limits your ability to shoot reef fish as you are out in the open for everything to see. Being on the bottom will conceal you and allow fish to unwittingly move into range of your gun.
Big predators of the grey variety are often seen swimming mid water. Not something we want to emulate if we want to get closer to the fish.
Another classic Noob mistake. Fast movements underwater have a couple of implications. Firstly fast movements tell fish that you’re a predator. Sharks move quickly when they’re agitated and feeding. Pelagic fish will move quickly when in a feeding frenzy as well. It sends the message that you’re a threat that should be avoided.
Secondly, fast movements increase your heart rate underwater and that means increased oxygen consumption, loss of relaxation and ultimately shorter dives.
You need the right tools for the job. It’s a simple task to get the right gear. Anyone local that’s been diving in your local area will tell you what you need. Knowing what to buy straight up will save you money and you’ll get comfortable using the right gear from the start. I’m not talking about brands here, though there are some to avoid. I’m talking about the practicalities of your gear like the length of your gun, thickness of your wetsuit and the stiffness of your fins to name a few.
Don’t be afraid to ask a retailer, local diver or someone from a club, it will save you time and money.
Just swimming around
Eckart says a common problem he sees is guys just swimming around hoping to bump into a fish. Eckart says you should target a fish and and learn the conditions that will help you to find that target fish in your area. Wind, tides, water temperature and any seasonal migrations are a great place to start. Get on the Google and do some research or get into a club and learn off the locals. You only get so many hours in the water, make the most of them.
If you manage to overcome the midwater warrior phase and get yourself on the bottom you may be making bunny ears with your fins. You might have your body pressed low against the bottom ready to strike but it will mean little if your fins are waiving around above your head. Get long and low to keep your fins connected to the bottom. High fins let the fish know exactly where you are like waving a flag above your head.
Q2. Is it OK to supplement additional photos with beautiful spearo photography (e.g. the hunt/the adventure/the dive/the kelp/etc) to bolster our submissions?
Q3. Hey Shrek bro, did you guys need photos with the recipes we submit or just the recipe? I have a few but don’t have photos at the moment?
You have it right , photos are pretty important and you can’t even submit the recipe unless there is at least 1 photo. The good news is that submissions are open to Aug 30 so you have plenty of time to get some together if you have a chance to spear and cook. We have 39 submissions as of 13.07.2021 so far:) – Shrek]
Q4. I’m having trouble uploading photos to the link. The error message says my photo files are not compatible. What can I do?
Sending photos through the submissions form helps us out with the editing process. However, if you are having trouble sending them, don’t worry: we’ve got your back! Send us your files via WeTransfer or Dropbox to [email protected].
(Please make sure you use the same email in both the recipe submission and the WeTransfer/Dropbox, so we can identify your photos)
Q1. Many of our recipes are super simple, like the scallop ceviche, or the dry aged sushi, but there is one aspect of the meal that requires time (e.g. making tapioca pearl chicharrones is suuuper easy, but takes about 3 hours to dehydrate before frying… or aging a fish is literally leaving it in a bag on ice for 2-4 days… or making sushi rice is really easy, but rice takes like 45 min to cook… or making fish stock takes 30 min but you can work on other aspects of the meal while it renders). Are these recipes OK to include and submit?
Q2. What happens if you get too many Ceviche Recipes or Baked Fish Recipes?
Q3. Would you be interested in a section of your book for staples that are used in many recipes like a standalone section for how to make sushi rice or fish stock or how to make rad looking garnishes that are easy and make any meal look 100x cooler? Then in the recipes for say a sushi roll, instead of adding all the text on how to make sushi rice, you just say refer to page xx.
Yes, I’m super keen on this. I am going to have some dedicated sections for cornerstone content like a guide to smoking fish then 3 smoked fish recipes. I’m super keen on your idea for this.
Q4. Who do I put as the Spearo Chef Author if I am part of an Organization?
Name, Organization for example; Isaac ‘Shrek’ Daly, Noob Spearo
Q5. Can I sign up to get an early copy of the first book?
Yes, we have an editing and design team doing their best to make sure the recipe is presented in a way that readers from everywhere can read and adapt to their area. We also have design and space limitations!
Summary of club activity: Blue Spearos is a spearfishing club that has been formed in the Cape by spearo diver Faiz Abrahams(Fuzzy). The Blue Spearos has grown steadily over the past couple of years with members from all over South Africa. Should you require any information regarding the club, feel free to email us at [email protected] Requests to join the club can also be sent to this email address.
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USA hosts its Biggest Freshwater Nationals in many years.
Despite COVID and an Easter weekend, the Copper State Freedivers of Arizona, hosted their first Freshwater National event in the Lake Pleasant, Arizona region on April 3.
Close to 90 divers, in 2 divisions: Mens and Mixed took 2643 fish in the 7 hour event. Legal species included Stripers, Shad, and Carp all were unlimited take as the lake is trying to reclaim the water for sports fish. Many fish were donated to the local Large Reptile rehab center, the largest in the Nation – Phoenix Herpetological Sanctuary.
9 divers shot over 100 fish;
Top diver in the Nation is Kelston McGuire of Colorado, with 147, that’s a fish every 2.45 minutes for 6+ hours non stop;
Top team shot 264 fish, Fernando Gutierrez and Darvil McBride, from Southern California;
Top Mixed doubles all came from Utah: #1 Shelby & Ryan Peterson, #2 Kenny & Maya Western, #3 Clay Palmer & Mike Kennedy;
Top Women were #1 Shelby Peterson, #2 Maya Western, #3 Mitsuki Hara.
**Thanks to all the great sponsors who keep these events alive**
There are basically two methods for how to aim a speargun, the point and tilt method and the instinctive method. In this article we will take a look at both styles and provide some tips to improve your accuracy.
The point and tilt method – Turbo’s Preference
The point and tilt aiming method is in my opinion the best place to begin with your spearfishing. It gets you into a routine and it’s replicable which allows you to adjust and work out where your gun is shooting. The point and tilt aiming method is where the hunter points the tip of the gun at the target and then brings up the handle of the gun so that the gun is pointing exactly at the target. The hunter uses their vision to align various points on the speargun. These points can include the muzzle, spear, spear notches, rubbers and handle to help aim. These points depend on the speargun style and hunters preference.
For example when using a Rob Allen closed muzzle speargun, align the v created by the back of the tensioned rubbers with the hole in the muzzle. This should provide you with consistent accuracy.
There are slight discrepancies between all guns so a systematic approach to testing the gun in a pool or the shallows is a good approach. A weighted thong (flip flop), piece of foam or even a plastic bag can be used for target practice. Position yourself at different distances and each time make a mental note of what you did and where the spear went. Repeat until you can replicate your shot placement consistently.
The instinctive method – Shrek’s Preference
Turbo – “The instinctive method is like shooting from the hip. The hunter through practice can point the gun at the fish and hit the target. I’ve not been able to do this yet so I stick to the point and tilt method.”
To recognise whether you use the instinctive method think about the last time you shot a good fish. Did you focus on your speargun and sighting down the barrel? or did you focus on a precise spot on the fish, then lift your gun and fire in a connected motion? If you sighted down the barrel you are probably like Turbo and you follow the point and tilt idea. If not there’s good and bad news for the instinctive style shooter. The bad news is that when your accuracy is out, discovering what is wrong can be more difficult than following a more methodical technique. For example; a ‘feel’ shooter will spend more time focusing on the fish rather than watching the flight of the shaft to see if they are shooting high or low. A feel shooter will also have more trouble adjusting to a new handle/style of speargun as they rely on the consistent performance and feel of their regular speargun. The good news for ‘feel’ shooters is that they can shoot fish from lots of different angles and it takes less time to manoeuvre and fire. Read below for further tips to improve accuracy.
Picking out a spot on the fish can greatly improve your chances. Here I have aimed where the Lateral line meets the gill plate. I didn’t quite get it but I got close enough.
Why you may be missing fish
Turbo – A few years ago after upgrading from my little timber gun to a 1.2m Euro I went from being a “dead eye” to not being able to hit the the side of a house and I just couldn’t work it out. I then stumbled across a document written by Rob Allen that explained what can affect the accuracy of a spear gun. Through experimentation Rob found that recoil was a major problem affecting accuracy and that lots of problems stemmed from grip pressure and overpowered rubbers. On a right handed shooter the recoil of the gun tends to send the shaft high and to the right whereas a left handed shooter will shoot high and to the left. Rob found that a soft grip and or overpowered rubbers exacerbated the problem greatly.
Skipper Jamie Lough has been using the same speargun since he started spearfishing and the results speak for themselves. He also has the same gun in different lengths, reducing variables. Here Jamie displays the sought after Sailfin Snapper sporting a clean headshot.
Turbo’s Tips for Improvement
Manufacturers have a formula for keeping their guns accurate. This will consist of rubber diameter, rubber length and spear diameter. Replication is the key to keeping consistency.
Keep your shoulder,elbow and wrist locked out when shooting to prevent recoil. Two hands is becoming popular as well.
Replicate your method so it becomes second nature. The less thinking and the more doing the better. It really does help to get some pool practice in. When you’re method becomes second nature you’re less likely to lose your head when that trophy fish swims within range.
In large schools of fish pick out the one fish.
Pick out a specific spot on that fish to aim at.
Make sure your safety latch is turned off before you dive. There’s nothing worse than getting everything right then having nothing happen when you pull the trigger.
Choose your gun and stand by it. The more you use it the better you will become with it. If you are going to have several lengths of gun then make them the same gun at different lengths.
Try a roller gun. Rollers have less recoil and are extremely accurate. You can read more on roller guns here.
Being able to aim your speargun and shoot accurately is vital to hitting fish cleanly and making good holding shots. To shoot a fish a poorly and have it tear off only to die is a waste of good fish and to be blunt, it’s cruel. It happens to everyone from time to time and is a part of hunting but just like our counterparts on land we too need to hone our skills and become better hunters
If you are new to spearfishing and would like to learn more then visit our getting started page here. You can also check out our book 99 Tips to get better at Spearfishing here